Mad Jack Hanks: Tales from the O-NO Ranch 9-19-11
In the cowboy’s world, gentle readers, the phrase “hang and rattle” usually refers to trying to stay on an ol’ pony that sometimes can be a hard bucker.
I’ve confessed before many times that I never was and will never be a bronc rider. There were those limited times when I was able to grab the night latch and “hang and rattle” and boy was I ever proud of myself. Any cowboy worth his salt has had horses that intimidated him. Too many times he was required to ride those ponies on a regular basis as that was just part of his job. And … I have seen some young bucks that could just sit up there on a hurricane deck and knock the hair off of some dysfunctional horse.
That was just not one of my talents. There was that warm July morning in 1985 when the cowboy crew, my teenage kids and I set out to gather a small pasture of fairly wild steers that had been sold and the trucks were on the way to load them up.
Ol’ Jiggs was my favorite horse in my string but let me tell you children when he got upset and decided to buck, you’d better get hold of everything you could if you were going to “hang and rattle.”
The details of what caused this wreck are not important, it’s just that stuff happens sometimes when you are workin’ cattle. Jiggs caught me off guard, blew up and I found myself way outta’ the saddle in a whisper. I kept reachin’ for the night latch but I just couldn’t seem to grab on. I was airborne about 9- to 10-feet in the air and I was on my back lookin’ up at that beautiful blue sky.
Jiggs was a big horse. He was 5-years-old, stood over 16 hands and weighed almost 1,500 pounds with the saddle on. I bought him as a 2-year-old and broke him and I was partial to him most of the time. Not today. I must have looked like a “Jack In The Box” that was out of the box and floppin’ around just before I made contact with the terra firma.
I landed on the back of my head and neck and yes, it hurt a lot. I was layin’ there watchin’ flashes of light. Through the light I saw my kids lookin’ down at me and of course, they were worried. Their mom was out of town as her dad had died a few days before and she was with her mother making funeral arrangements.
Ol’ Jiggs ran off still buckin’ like a world class bronc. The boys caught him up, helped me get up and remounted and we penned the cattle. I took myself to the hospital as soon as the steers were in the pen and they put me to bed and put weight on my head and let it hang off the bed. Heck, that hurt worse than you can imagine. After about 20 minutes, I took that contraption off my head, checked myself out against doctor’s orders and went home to be with my kids.
It took a little over two years before I could put a pillow under my head at night. I wish that I had been able to “hang and rattle” that morning, but then, my story wouldn’t be as good.
Right now I am “hanging and rattling with a bad chest cold. I think in a couple of more days I’ll be okay.
At this writing, the date is 9-11. I remember with sadness the events of that day. There were folks that “hung and rattled” as long as they could. God bless ‘um!
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c y’all, all y’all.